“I still say this is a bad idea,” muttered Troga as he performed the weapons systems checks.
“Your concern is noted,” replied Palmanar in her own craft. Her brother, Rokomar, was pilot while Palmanar manned the weapons.
“All checks complete,” reported Marianes.
“Same here,” called Rokomar. A call then came through to the Shellcrafts.
“This is Arsha,” said the caller. “My craft is approaching your position.”
“We see it,” remarked Marianes. “Joining now.” The Shellcrafts took off and flanked Arsha. The pilots gave Arsha the necessary course adjustments to the Trelfan Trench on the way. Soon, they passed by a glowing red line on the sea floor.
“That’s the border,” gulped Palmanar. “We’re in Mega-shark territory now.”
“Recommendations?” asked Arsha.
“Just fly casual,” suggested Marianes. They continued onwards, feeling eyes about them. Mega-sharks came out of their homes, their humanoid appearance tall and imposing, just to float in place and glare. Still, the journey continued onwards. Soon, they reached a rather dark place, a large, continent-wide chasm that ran deep. This was the capital of the Mega-sharks, the Trelfan Trench. Mega-sharks in armor swam up to the crafts and surrounded them.
“We’re being hailed,” called Arsha.
“Open a channel, all of you,” directed Palmanar. “We don’t want to appear aggressive.” The three pilots complied and a Mega-shark’s deep voice rang throughout the crafts.
“Foreign craft, you have crossed the border!” he boomed.
“We’re fully aware of that,” assured Arsha. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Arsha, Captain of the Endeavor. I am here to gather an ingredient for a member of my crew. He is ill and needs the mucus of the clownfish that live here.”
“Your crewman’s life means nothing,” growled the Mega-shark. “Leave our territory or we will destroy you.”
“We have no choice,” replied Marianes. “Your…superior clownfish are needed to help him.”
“…Well, everything we do and have IS better than anything Realmfleet can dredge up,” mused the Mega-shark.
“And if you allow us to use the mucus of your clownfish,” continued Arsha, about to throw up at even thinking of her next words, “we would finally be admitting that YOU are the superior race.” There was a murmur as the Mega-sharks considered.
“…We will take you to the anemone our clownfish dwell in,” rumbled the Mega-shark that spoke to them. Surrounded on all sides, the crafts descended. Rokomar then started rubbing his scalp.
“Is something wrong?” asked Palmanar.
“I feel…sadness,” replied Rokomar, “…despair, helplessness, hopelessness, …VIOLATION! I can feel their pleasure slaves’ unending torture!”
“What’s going on?” asked Arsha.
“Rokomar’s got telepathic and empathic abilities,” explained Palmanar. “Whenever he feels stray emotions, he tries to find the source of it.”
“I’d say he found it,” muttered Marianes.
“No, only the surface problem,” countered Rokomar, “the rest is muddied by…that doesn’t make sense. The other problems are muddied by millennia of pain!”
“Perhaps they’re descendants of the original slaves?” asked Arsha.
“No, they’re reading as the original slaves themselves,” replied Rokomar.
“Millennia old slaves?” mumbled Arsha.
“Halt!” called the Mega-shark. The crafts and their escort stopped. “We’re here. We will collect the mucus. You will teleport it into one of your crafts once it is done.” Two Mega-sharks descended to the anemone the clownfish live in and got to work. “How much do you require?”
“Two handfuls,” replied Arsha.
“Plenty to spare,” growled the Mega-shark. The process took an hour, but enough mucus was collected. Arsha then lit up a pair or her tails and brought the mucus into her craft. “Now, do you remember the way back to our borders?”
“We do,” assured Marianes.
“Then leave, and don’t dare to come back or we will not be so lenient next time!” threatened the Mega-shark. The crafts turned around and they sped back to their side of the border.
“Honestly, that went better than I expected for Mega-shark mating season,” sighed Troga.
“Not very hospitable, are they?” muttered Arsha. “I’ll be returning to the Endeavor.”
“And we’ll head back to base,” replied Palmanar. “I hope Laverda gets better soon.”
“I hope so as well,” sighed Arsha. The Shellcrafts returned to base and Arsha made her way back to the Endeavor. She was granted clearance to enter the ship’s launch bay and when she got close enough, the crew on the ship took over the flight controls of the fighter craft. It touched down and the water that entered the launch bay was drained away. After the drying spells were cast, Arsha stepped out and ran to Sick bay. Marshii was standing vigil over Laverda. The medical stasis spell had worn off and Laverda had only an hour left to live. He was in a lot of pain.
“GIMME!” shouted Marshii when she saw the bag of mucus. She got to work making the cure and taking enough to fill the syringe. Laverda had only 10 minutes left when she stuck the needle into his arm. She and Arsha waited five minutes before any physical changes occurred. “Virus cell count is going down,” sighed Marshii. “The larger heart’s taking over. The larger lungs are switching on. Hearts rate’s reaching normal. He’s gonna make it!” Laverda then groaned and tried to get up. “No, you don’t!” snapped Marshii as she set him back down, albeit with a little difficulty.
“Doctor, I’m already…!” protested Laverda.
“You keep arguing with me,” threatened Marshii, “you’ll be laid up for two weeks! If you cooperate, you’ll be out in four days.”
“Well,” sighed Arsha, “I think I’ll return to my station.”
“After all the stress you went through?!” hissed Marshii. She then pointed to one of the beds. “THAT’S your station!”
“Doctor, I do believe you enjoy the power you have a little too much,” mused Arsha as she laid on the bed.
“Indeed, Captain,” chuckled Laverda. “I’ve never seen her so happy when your father was in command of this ship.”
“Shut up!” snapped Marshii. Arsha opened her mouth but was promptly shushed. After a few seconds of silence, Marshii grinned. “Well, how about that? I got the last word with a Royana.”
After two hours rest, Arsha was cleared. She returned to the base to help Palmanar and Marianes report their findings to Realmfleet. A male Orc Admiral, Rokalla, was on the other end of the call, as was Admiral Rooshee. “You did WHAT?!” he shouted.
“I couldn’t let Laverda die!” replied Arsha.
“So you thought it was a good idea to simply waltz into Mega-shark territory and risk your life like that?!” growled Rokalla.
“Admiral, she had a good reason!” protested Rooshee.
“I can’t believe you’re siding with her!” wailed Rokalla.
“We’ve long believed that the Mega-sharks would never stoop to slavery,” countered Rooshee, “that it was merfolk propaganda. Clearly we’ve insulted the merfolk and must do what we can to free the slaves.”
“And the mystery merman?” asked Marianes.
“If we can find him,” mused Rooshee, “maybe we can get some answers.”
“We have two mystery leads,” muttered Arsha. “That book that was discovered and the merman.”
“A fleet is arriving tomorrow,” answered Rooshee. “The Endeavor will be the flagship.”
“I can convince my parents to send a fleet to aid yours,” Marianes chimed in.
“Much appreciated,” replied Rooshee.
“I can’t believe this!” groaned Rokalla. “Millenia of peace, and it all goes away!”
“We’re arresting the Mega-sharks’ leader when we win,” replied Rooshee. “Besides, this came from the Realmfleet council.”
“Doesn’t mean I like it!” grumbled Rokalla. “Expect the fleet to arrive in the morning. Realmfleet out.” The call ended.
“I need to call my parents,” declared Marianes. “In the meantime…” she didn’t get very far as a merman picked something on sensors.
“There’s an object coming directly towards us at a speed of 75 knots!” he reported.
“How far away is it?” asked Palmanar.
“It’ll breach our shield perimeter in 2 minutes!” called the merman.
“Too close for comfort,” declared Palmanar. “Red Alert. Raise shields. Arm all weapons batteries.” A red dome surrounded the base as the turrets came out of the ground, training themselves on the object. The object stopped, causing bubbles to appear when it stopped. The bubbles cleared to reveal the mystery merman, just floating there, ready to strike at a moment’s notice. “Standby,” ordered Palmanar. “Don’t engage unless he makes an aggressive action against us.” As soon as she gave the order, Erga burst in with the book that was dug up.
“Open a channel to him!” he called.
“What?!” yelped Palmanar.
“I think I have something that may explain his behavior,” answered Erga. “Open a channel and he can confirm what I read.” The staff looked to Palmanar for orders.
“…Open a channel,” she commanded. The Communications Officer complied and opened a channel.
“This book was written by the Queen of your home,” began Erga. On screen, the merman’s face had surprise written all over it. “It detailed the disaster that befell your people 50,000 years ago,” continued Erga. “I have a passage here that may explain your hostility towards us.” He opened the book and read the passage. “‘It is over. My people are now eternal slaves to the Mega-sharks. We have had spells woven onto us that will never let us die or age as we are violated, body and soul, by our new masters. We’ve fought for so long, but we couldn’t win. I have already surrendered myself to the Mega-shark Rulers to be their family’s personal slave. My brother, Forneth, my greatest treasure, the founder of our beliefs, is trapped in fiend-ice. Even if the ice could be melted, his vocal cords are paralyzed. He can never call for help again. Our children have escaped to the nearby kingdom. They can never be touched. Oh, how I wish the Mega-sharks learned the truth why our kingdom decided to forgo clothes. We only wished to communicate with our ancestors. Alas, only lust controls these creatures. They only see nudity as a means to attract mates. They did not take ‘no’ for an answer. We are lost. There is no hope for us. Farewell, life. May time rediscover us so our plight will be remembered.” The merman looked like he was sobbing. “Forneth,” called Erga. “That’s your name. While I am blessed to meet the Founder of the Order, I am saddened that your plight was heard 50,00 years later. I have good news though; we have a way to end the torture of your people.” Forneth looked up, his eyes still red and his face still displaying grief. “Realmfleet has sent a fleet of ships to assist us in getting your people free. I can personally promise you; your people’s suffering will end. This, I vow by my ancestors who escaped such torture.”
“The Order still exists,” supplied Palmanar. “A few members of the Royal Family are followers. We WILL assist you and we WILL restore your vocal cords. Will you help us end this barbarism?” Forneth was stunned, then cleared it as he nodded vigorously. “Palmanar to Infirmary, send a medical team to escort Forneth into the base. Stand down all weapons. Drop the shields.” As the red dome faded, a medical team swam to Forneth’s position and gave him a sickly-green potion.
“It’s gonna taste bad,” remarked one of the medics, “but the nerves to your vocal cords will reconnect to the proper nerve channels leading to the area that controls vocal communication.” Forneth drank it, nearly gagging, and let himself be escorted to the Infirmary to rest. He passed by Ops to see everyone inside.
“Thank you,” he whispered before swimming off.
“Well now,” mused Arsha, “we have an ally.”
“With him here,” chuckled Palmanar, “we’ll be able to plan a victorious attack.”